A three-year fellowship introduced LaToya Myles, Ph.D., to Oak Ridge, and now she works in the city as deputy director of the Atmospheric Turbulence and Diffusion Division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Myles’ NOAA fellowship, managed for ORISE by SAWD’s Norma Ward, brought the Florida A&M University doctoral student and Mississippi native to East Tennessee. Her fellowship ran from November 2001 to April 2005. She spent most of her time studying and researching at the university or conducting experiments at field locations; however, nearly four months were spent in Oak Ridge.
“The fellowship opened up a whole new world for me,” says Myles. She credits Ward for aiding her success during the fellowship. “Norma encouraged me to try different projects to find my place in science. She told me to ‘step out’ beyond my program and see what’s out there,” Myles said.
“LaToya was an outstanding student. She was very eager to learn,” recalls Ward, program specialist. “I was grateful to have her on board because she was an asset to the team.”
Myles was introduced to the fellowship program by Larry Robinson, Ph.D., who now serves as president of Florida A&M University. Years ago, Robinson was director of the university’s Environmental Sciences Institute and the NOAA Environmental Cooperative Science Center housed at FAMU. Robinson knew Oak Ridge offered promising career opportunities. He was a research scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory earlier in his career.
Myles obtained a doctorate in environmental sciences from FAMU. Prior to this attainment, she was graduated magna cum laude with bachelor of science degrees in chemistry and biology from Alcorn State University. She joined NOAA’s staff as a physical scientist in 2005.
Her research continues to focus on invisible gases and small particles in the earth’s atmosphere. She conducts field studies in agricultural and coastal ecosystems to investigate reactive nitrogen in the environment. Field studies require working across the country, so she allocates her time between research and managerial responsibilities at the NOAA office in Oak Ridge. She works closely with more than 20 ORAU staff members in Oak Ridge to support NOAA’s climate, air chemistry and atmospheric boundary layer programs.
Myles also mentors undergraduate and graduate students from NOAA scholarship programs. She serves as vice chairperson of the advisory board for Science, Engineering and Mathematics Link, Inc., a nonprofit organization that promotes student achievement and career exploration in math and science. She is a graduate of Leadership Knoxville.
“LaToya is an advocate for our program,” says Ward, who encounters Myles at recruiting events. “She flows students to us and tells them what ORISE has to offer. She shares her own experiences with them.”